Friday 27 May 2022

Friday 27th & Saturday 28th May 2022: Time to Qash In at Haydock

It’s the calm before the storm this weekend.

Next week we get to see three Group 1’s and a whole lot more besides across Derby weekend at Epsom, that coming shortly before Royal Ascot.

It’s understandable then that there is no major betting handicap or Group 1 race this week, but there is some fantastic action all the same with Haydock flying the flag.

Friday 27th May 2022

6.55 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – ALMUHIT 

This 1m3½f novice race provides those needing a bit of a trip with a chance to really stretch out.

William Buick has been booked for Our Jester, one of four older horses in the line-up who was second on his Flat debut, while I’m hoping most of the money goes the way of Hello Jumeirah.

That filly was a good winner on debut in April for the red-hot William Haggas and more is expected of her, however she didn’t perform last time and we wait to see truly how good she is.

The one I like best is the Shadwell horse, Almuhit. 

Very green on debut under Martin Harley at Doncaster, he was getting the idea late on in South Yorkshire. He wasn’t good last time when not getting the ideal trip again, though he’s learning all the time and retains the blinkers which were fitted for his last run.

Almuhit is a brother to Taghrooda and had he not been so green and performed the way he was expected to on debut, then he’d have finished upsides the likes of Natural World, Ottoman Fleet and Lionel, all 100+ horses now.

7.25 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – ONE WORLD

This is a nice race for the two-year-olds over seven furlongs and it could be very informative with Royal Ascot in mind. The betting closer to post time should reveal more of what is expected of this bunch.

There is some speed in the pedigrees of likely types Eagle Day and Loyal Touch, but this seven furlongs may just take some getting for the youngsters if the pace is hot which may allow the impeccably bred One World to come into his own.

The Sea The Stars/Dubawi cross, owned by Juddmonte and trained by the Gosdens, was entered for Thursday’s hot novice at Yarmouth but was rerouted here. He’s also Rab Havlin’s only ride on the card.

William Buick has been booked for the Johnston horse and he’s going for the championship but essentially, he is here to ride True Accolade in the last for Godolphin and Appleby and it may pay off for him to hang around.

8.55 Haydock (Handicap) – TRUE ACCOLADE 

This is a mile-and-a-half, Class 4 handicap to finish the card and it’s one in which True Accolade can show he is well handicapped.

Third on debut in a hot novice stakes for which he was favourite, True Accolade took a keen hold and couldn’t hold out when being pressed by eventual winner Surrey Mist.

That horse went on to finish second to Israr in the bomb-proof London Gold Cup, while fourth horse Salvator Mundi has gone on to win since, as has fifth-placed Deciduous.

Saturday 28th May 2022

1.45 Haydock (Achilles Stakes – Listed Race) – DRAGON SYMBOL 

Dragon Symbol’s new trainer Roger Varian was left scratching his head after the multiple winner and Group 1-placed colt ran so poorly at York on his return to action just over two weeks ago.

He has come out of the race perfectly well, there are no obvious reasons for his bad run other than being a little too fresh, and we cannot forget what he has achieved.

There is no known reason why he should fail again, so it could just be that Dragon Symbol is just too good for Clarendon House, Atalis Bay and Significantly as he warms up for a top-level assignment at Royal Ascot.

2.55 Haydock (Pinnacle Stakes – Group 3) – NOON STAR 

I feel like I’m one of the people who has given Noon Star plenty of chances now. But, rather typically for a Sir Michael Stoute horse of this age (4), she is actually still improving overall and we can’t lose sight of that.

True, she has been a beaten favourite twice and rather disappointed in the Middleton last time, but that was a Group 2 race and when you stand back and take a simple look at her form she is still tempting.

Her first win was an easy one  against Ocean Road, a filly rated 106 and now racing in America, while her taking win next time in a novice at Wetherby sent her off favourite for the Musidora last year in which she was eventually second to Snowfall.

She didn’t go on last year, but returned with a tough success in the Nottinghamshire Oaks in April and, as mentioned before, she is getting better overall so at the likely prices can be chanced ahead of Lady Hayes, Sea La Rosa, Climate and Nell Quickly.

3.30 Haydock (John of Gaunt Stakes – Group 3) – LANEQASH

Happy Power won well last time and remains of interest, while previous Lockinge hope Sunray Major finds himself in calmer waters now and can go well.

Kinross most likely wants it softer than this, so the one for me is Roger Varian’s Laneqash.

He reached a mark of 111 when narrowly beaten on his second juvenile start in the Flying Scotsman, while when he returned from a break last season, he ran to around 113 and was beaten only by Sacred at Group 2 level.

He’s now been gelded and as a four-year-old with just six races under his belt, he can go on again If he does, he should be at a level that is too hot for this field.

4.55 Chester (Handicap) – KAATIBB 

Kaatibb has continued to improve despite being 0-4 so far, and this could be his day. Conditions look ideal and he is well handicapped, while PJ McDonald is a good jockey booking too.

7.15 Salisbury (Maiden Stakes) – ZAINALARAB 

Zainalarab doesn’t look an obvious choice on form, but based on the level he was expected to get to on debut plus natural improvement, he could be tough to beat now.

He’s far from certain to reach that level but if he is priced accordingly, we can have a go.

Of the major chances against him I don’t think the four-year-old Wiseacre is at the same level, while Thakrah is getting weight but has been off a long time and was ditched by Shadwell who kept Zainalarab.

Cameron Noble takes off 3lbs too, though he’s 0-10 this year and needs a change of luck.

Friday 20 May 2022

Friday 20th & Saturday 21st May 2022: Take an Oath on Saturday Night

It’s a massive weekend of Group 1 action at the Curragh. The Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas take place, Native Trail looking for valuable compensation having been narrowly beaten in his Newmarket Classic.

The Tattersalls Gold Cup also takes place on Sunday, while at Haydock we see the return of Winter Power in the Temple Stakes.

We bet across Friday and Saturday, beginning at Goodwood.

Friday 20th May 2022

2.10 Goodwood (Height of Fashion – Listed Race) – ETERNAL PEARL 

Three fillies stand out in this 1m2f race. Emotion didn’t show up behind Emily Upjohn on debut, but trounced her opposition next time and is favourite here.

Sea Silk Road has a similar profile and clearly has lots of potential, but overpriced for this event is Charlie Appleby’s Eternal Pearl.

Eternal Pearl looked far from the finished article on debut at Ascot, staying on nicely late on behind the well-backed winner Grande Dame.

Both her reputation and her odds on the day suggested she should have run to a similar level to Grande Dame, that filly having since come out and run to a mark of around 100 in a Listed race at York having had trouble beforehand.

Having had a week or so more than Emotion and Sea Silk Road between races, it is very possible she can improve past them now.

2.30 Haydock (Cecil Frail Stakes – Listed Race) – FLOTUS 

There isn’t much to choose between four horses here with place chances; Illustrating, Gale Force Maya, Sense Of Duty and Nazanin who may all attract attention.

Ventura Diamond may have a better chance, at least if getting back her best but in the end, this could be all about Flotus as long as her problems are behind her.

She had excuses when dropping out tamely on her seasonal debut, but she has tons of class and speed and wouldn’t need to have improved from last year’s form to win this.

3.20 Goodwood (Cocked Hat Stakes – Listed Race) – NATURAL WORLD 

There are some interesting types in here for sure and few may well go on to be top class in the near future. Maksud and Mr Alan will need to improve, while Lysander is highly rated by his excellent trainer William Haggas.

Lysander won ever so easily at Newcastle, but it’s hard to say that he had any appreciable competition. A 20/1 shot for the Derby, Haggas still hopes to get to Epsom in a couple of weeks’ time and so a win here is required.

Aldous Huxley was an excellent debut scorer and a strong second to New London after, so with natural improvement under Frankie Dettori he too can make a big impression.

He does carry the second choice Godolphin colours however with Natural World the preferred horse for the owners, and me.

Having beaten subsequent Listed winner Ottoman Fleet on debut, Natural World was sent to the Derby Trial at Lingfield where he was third. That form is OK, but he is sure to be significantly better here and can go well with William Buick up top.

Saturday 21st May 2022

2.00 Haydock (Hell Nook Handicap) – BANDINELLI 

A competitive two-mile handicap, one in which Goobinator and Haveyoumissedme may prove popular.

I got this very close between Melrose winner Valley Forge, who should be fully race fit now, and the improver Bandinelli.

The last-named has won three times on the all-weather and twice on the turf and he’s showing no signs of stopping as he goes up in trip.

2.15 Goodwood (Festival Stakes – Listed Race) – MOVIN TIME 

This is wide open according to the betting, and I certainly thought it was very competitive too.

Victory Chime, Ad Infinitum, Al Zaraqaan, West End Charmer and Majestic Dawn will all be backed and all hold place chances you would think.

The one I like is Movin Time as the four-year-old may just improve to a higher level than the bulk of this field.

Second to the decent Rebel’s Romance on debut, he beat subsequent Queen’s Vase winner Kemari last May, was five lengths behind Mohaafeth at Royal Ascot, another five behind Lockinge runner-up Real World after that and had a pipe-opener in a handicap this season, all the while improving for each run.

3.10 Haydock (Sandy Lane Stakes – Group 2) – EL CABALLO 

Rossa Ryan is adamant that Go Bears Go is the one to beat in this race, saying during the week that he cannot understand the betting.

In fact, his horse is favourite or joint-favourite at the time of writing with El Caballo and I get things very close between those two and Wings Of War.

We scored last week with Tiber Flow who was just beaten by El Caballo at Newcastle and that form is rock-solid. Karl Burke’s three-year-old may go in again.

3.30 York (Bronte Cup – Group 3) – SILENCE PLEASE 

Believe In Love is understandably well fancied for the Roger Varian team, but frankly her form tends to take a dip when the ground gets quick which could be the case by Saturday afternoon.

She’d still be competitive at this level, as will Eileendover, however it could be Silence Please who comes out on top this time.

Placed at this level in Ireland, the mare was an unlucky loser on her debut for Andrew Balding in a Listed race at Goodwood in April, giving the impression she can still produce her very best which could be good enough.

12.01 Pimlico (Preakness Stakes – Grade 1) – SECRET OATH 

We managed to score with outstanding filly Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago and she has been undervalued and overpriced once again.

The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown, but there will be no Triple Crown champ after 80/1 Derby winner Rich Strike was not entered here.

Runner-up in the Derby, Epicenter, is a very short-priced favourite for this but the form level in the big race doesn’t match up to Secret Oath’s in my opinion, while she also gets a 5lb fillies’ allowance.

Secret Oath has been as smooth as silk so far for D Wayne Lukas and he may well be getting plenty of attention again on Saturday night.

Friday 13 May 2022

Friday 13th & Saturday 14th May 2022: Sunray a Major Challenger in Lockinge

It’s a Group 1 weekend once again as Newbury hosts the Lockinge Stakes.

All eyes will be on Baaeed and quite rightly so, though Newbury’s two-day meeting is about far more than that. Newmarket backs up the meet very well, while York’s Dante Festival comes to a close on Friday and features Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup among others.

Friday 13th May 2022

2.25 York (Michael Seely Memorial Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – GIRL ON FILM

I couldn’t quite find a worthwhile bet in the opening juvenile fillies’ Listed race, though I thought Yahsat was interesting, but there is a value punt to be had in the second race on the Knavesmire.

This Listed event over the mile features 12 three-year-old fillies, one of which was very heavily backed to score on debut. That winner was John & Thady Gosden’s Grande Dame and she could be a warm order here.

Although she justified her shortening price and was doing it nicely at the line, she had to work fairly hard during the race and it may be that there isn’t as much improvement to come as would normally be the case with a filly from this yard.

As a value alternative I like Girl On Film. A very good winner on debut last year before contesting the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, she was a fair each-way shout for the 1000 Guineas I thought although she didn’t make it to Newmarket.

On a line through American winner Tezzaray and the likes of Jumbly and Guineas winner Cachet, who she was close to in the Rockfel, she looks more than capable of reaching a level that the others may struggle to reach.

4.10 York (Handicap) – WILD CRUSADE 

Charlie Appleby and Godolphin have two top chances here in the shape of New Comedy (Frankie Dettori) and Wild Crusade (James Doyle).

Both have won their last two races, New Comedy on the turf last time out and Wild Crusade exclusively on the all-weather, while it is Frankie’s ride who gets the first-choice blue cap.

Despite that, James Doyle would surely have been given priority and he rides the horse I get just a few pounds ahead of his stablemate.

Wild Crusade has only had four runs, won ever so easily last time and beat Derby contender Nahanni before that.

4.20 Newbury (Handicap) – INDEPENDENT ACT 

Charlie Appleby has somewhat of a stranglehold on the 4.10 at York, yet first choice rider William Buick is at Newbury and I can see why.

He has a couple of very interesting novices to ride on the card, but also has a huge chance in this closing one-mile, three-furlong handicap.

March Moon is going to be the one for money I think, but Independent Act has lots more to come having only had three runs.

He represents some form which is crucial this weekend. Fourth in a hot handicap behind Educator at the Craven Festival, he took a keen hold that day and showed some inexperience but still managed a 2¾-length fourth.

He is going the right way, as is Israr who was just ahead of him (see below), and looks more than capable of landing a Class 4 event such as this.

Saturday 14th May 2022

1.35 Newbury (Carnarvon Stakes – Listed Race) – TIBER FLOW 

The first five races at Newbury are fantastic, all for different reasons, beginning with this competitive Listed sprint for three-year-olds.

Some of the trainers involved here will have an eye on the Commonwealth Cup next month and the one I like to prep perfectly for that is William Haggas’s Tiber Flow.

I liked his chances of remaining unbeaten at Newcastle on All-Weather Championships Finals Day and while he was ultimately narrowly beaten there, he continued his improvement.

That’s a slower track and yet he’s shown some great speed on the Tapeta surfaces. I fancy he can cut loose a little more here and see off the challenges of Hierarchy and Cadamosto under Tom Marquand.

2.10 Newbury (Al Rayyan Stakes – Group 3) – ESHAADA 

Eshaada is heavily penalised for last autumn’s Group 1 win on Champions Day, but she’s a proper filly and she can begin this campaign the right way.

Roger Varian’s four-year-old has some real star quality about her and the team may be thinking about the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the year for her.

At the weights Foxes Tales and Without A Fight have a chance, Ilaraab will be fancied too, but it’s Jim Crowley’s mount who gets the nod.

2.45 Newbury (London Gold Cup Handicap) – ISRAR 

This is a hugely competitive three-year-old handicap on the face of it, but as explained above I love the form of the race Israr took part in at Newmarket and he wasn’t at his best there either.

Improving plenty overall, the Gosden runner was slowly away and got himself unbalanced in the Dip at a crucial time at HQ, though things should be more straightforward here and he has that valuable experience under his belt too.

He’s not been touched by the handicapper which is crucial and he may prove to be the best of this bunch. Red Vineyard and Surrey Mist were next on the list.

3.20 Newbury (Lockinge Stakes – Group 1) – SUNRAY MAJOR (place) 

This race is all about the exceptional Baaeed and it would be great for racing if he took the contest apart.

That may or may not happen, but at the prices listed on Thursday we could claim between 5/1 and 7/1 for a first three place on Sunray Major and that’s the call.

Although a five-year-old now, he’s improving and maybe needed his seasonal debut. He was heading the right way last season when winning at Chelmsford and Ascot and can get to the level shown by the likes of Real World, Mother Earth and Alcohol Free which makes his place odds look silly.

4.30 Newbury (Fillies’ Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – MUKADDAMAH 

Nashwa was a good winner three weeks ago for the Gosdens and she’s had her form advertised well by a stablemate since.

A chance is taken however on Roger Varian’s Mukaddamah who ran to a similar level behind the aforementioned Grande Dame last time out, giving that one 5lbs.

Friday 6 May 2022

Friday 6th & Saturday 7th May 2022 - One to Rule in Victoria Cup

What a fantastic weekend of racing action we have in store. Chester’s May meeting finishes up on Friday, while Ascot race over both days.

There is a nice mixed card at Haydock featuring the Swinton Hurdle and the Spring Trophy and over at Lingfield they host the Derby and Oaks trials along with another Group 3.

In the States, Churchill Downs boasts a ton of graded action headlined by the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Friday 6th May 2022

3.45 Chester (Conditions Stakes) – KING’S LYNN 

This is a five-furlong conditions race that could easily be a Listed contest. In it, a number of them carry penalties making the 6lb extra King’s Lynn shoulders look not too bad.

Andrew Balding’s five-year-old showed some great form last year. A Listed winner at Haydock, the Queen’s runner was then a staying-on seventh in the King’s Stand before turning out quickly to finish a close third in the Wokingham.

He finished his year with a strong Listed win at Doncaster and he seems certain to go for glory at the top level soon. He’s also drawn ideally in stall one.

Plenty will be expected of young contender Flaming Rib at what is now Hugo Palmer’s home track, though he is similarly penalised and may struggle. Acklam Express is best of the rest.

5.40 Ascot (Handicap) – KHATHIK 

Ascot’s Friday closer is a competitive-looking straight mile handicap and it may turn out that Khathik is ideally drawn to take advantage of what I think is a lenient handicap mark.

William Buick’s mount was good when winning on debut at Kempton over the winter, but perhaps didn’t fully appreciate things being slower at Newcastle and Southwell.

On the turf he can reach a new level and looks well in, with Duelist, Court Of Session and Paradias also expected to go well.

9.04 Churchill Downs (Eight Belles Stakes – Grade 2) – MATAREYA 

Godolphin’s Matareya was well backed for the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes last autumn, with an eye on the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Oaks.

That didn’t work out, but they went down in trip to find the key with her. This year, she has demolished fields over six and seven furlongs, this race being run over the latter, and she could be much the best filly in this line up.

10.51 Churchill Downs (Kentucky Oaks – Grade 1) – SECRET OATH 

We landed this $1.25 million race last year with Malathaat and can hopefully repeat the trick.

The one with the best recent form according to many is Nest and it would be no surprise if she won this to be fair. She’s not unbeatable though and on a line through those she’s beaten, my original fancy looks better placed to win. That filly is Secret Oath for the super combination of D Wayne Lukas and Luis Saez.

After racking up a hat-trick by winning a Grade 3 ever so easily at Oaklawn in February, Secret Oath was thrown in against the boys in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and in fact she went off a hot favourite.

She suffered a horrible trip there, but still managed third behind Derby hope Cyberknife. She’s now had a change of jockey which counts for plenty.

In December she beat Matareya by some 8¼ lengths, while Yuugiri was more than 9 lengths behind her at Oaklawn. Yuugiri won well in Grade 3 company when last seen and is in opposition again here.

Saturday 7th May 2022

2.20 Ascot (Buckhounds Stakes – Listed Race) – MANDOOB 

Al Aasy runs here, his defection from Chester changing the odds and stopping me from backing Megallan in the Huxley. Stowell undoubtedly has a race like this in him too, but Mandoob is a silly price.

Still with Brian Meehan although no longer owned by Shadwell, Mandoob has some classy form. He beat Marshall Plan and Princess Nadia in his first races before chasing home the excellent Yibir.

He’s been off a while, but he’s had a breathing op and his team have been waiting for the right conditions considering he was entered at Chester during the week.

4.05 Ascot (Victoria Cup Handicap) – ONE RULER 

After a fine juvenile campaign that led to an Autumn Stakes win, like Coroebus, and a close second to McSwiney in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity, One Ruler was once Godolphin’s top prospect.

In fact, on the gallops last spring he was thought of as still their no.1 ahead of 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas.

Things didn’t work out for him as a three-year-old but he did take in the Guineas, the Derby and Royal Ascot and Charlie Appleby has not lost faith.

Back in January he was a very good third to Real World, rated 118, with subsequent Group 1 winner Alfareeq between the pair and clearly, he is getting back to his best.

The Dubawi’s can often get quicker as they get older with this stiff seven furlongs looking perfect now. Darkness is next on the list.

4.40 Ascot (Fillies’ Handicap) – AFTER THE RAIN 

After The Rain was tough and determined in winning her second race at Windsor four weeks ago and she is clearly still improving.

This is not a particularly strong race, while we all know now that Harry Davies is value for a fair few of the 7lbs he claims which will also help.

11.57 Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby – Grade 1) – TIZ THE BOMB 

Tiz The Bomb is trading at around 25/1 for the Kentucky Derby but he has some rock-solid form and I have a theory regarding the Tapeta surface that we can play on at these inflated odds.

Tapeta tends to ride slower meaning races on it, especially where clock-watchers are concerned, are often marked down and should really be upgraded for handicapping purposes.

As we’ve seen at Newcastle with the likes of Stradivarius, Without Parole, Enable and plenty of Charlie Appleby horses, they tend to come out strong having raced on this surface and it could be the case with our Derby horse too.

Tiz The Bomb was actually a fine second to Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the horse who is now favourite for the French 2000 Guineas, before a change of ownership led to a change of tactics.

Flying under the radar somewhat, Ken McPeek’s colt has won two races on Tapeta very easily this spring at Turfway Park and comes into this as an outsider in most people’s eyes.

In truth his form is excellent and must be upgraded. He’s drawn in gate 9 which is ideal and has everything needed to put in a massive run.

Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter must be feared, Messier may yet turn around Santa Anita Derby form with Taiba, with White Abarrio, Zandon and Charge It all also capable of big runs.